Right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) tossed 7 2/3 innings in his start for the Colorado Rockies on Friday. Photo: Colorado Rockies/Twitter

May 5, 2024

By Kevin Glew

Cooperstowners in Canada

Some Canadian baseball news and notes from the past week:

-Colorado Rockies right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) earned his first win of the season on Friday. He started and allowed just three hits, while striking out nine, in 7 2/3 scoreless innings in the Rockies’ 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. After a rough beginning to the season, Quantrill has a 2.93 ERA in his past five starts, spanning 30 2/3 innings. With this strong stretch, Quantrill has lowered his season ERA to 4.31. The Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team alum was traded to the Rockies by the Cleveland Guardians on November 17 after being limited to 19 starts by shoulder woes last season.

–Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.) had nine home runs in 72 games for the St. Louis Cardinals last season. This year he has belted nine in just 25 games for the Boston Red Sox. His nine homers are the second-most in the American League to Baltimore Orioles slugger Gunnar Henderson and Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout who have 10 each. O’Neill also batted .320 in April and received votes for the American League Player of the Month award that was won by Henderson.

-As you know, Tyler Black (Stouffville, Ont.) was called up by the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday. He promptly doubled off Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Tyler Alexander in the third inning in his first at bat. Two innings later, while his father, legendary Canadian broadcaster, Rod, was being interviewed in the stands for the Brewers’ Bally Sports broadcast, Tyler singled. “That’s a base hit to right field for my boy, Tyler Black,” said the proud father with tears in his eyes (You can watch and listen to this by clicking on the YouTube link above). The next day, Black made his first big league start at first base and added another double. Prior to his call-up, Black, who’s in his fourth season in the Brewers’ organization, owned a .303/.393/.525 slash line with five home runs, three triples and 18 RBIs in 25 games for the triple-A Nashville Sounds this season.

-With his call-up, Black became the fourth former Canadian Baseball Network College Player of the Year to reach the majors. Black was a unanimous winner of the CBN honour in 2021 after he batted .383 with 13 home runs and 59 RBIs in 48 games for the NCAA Wright State Raiders. The others to have won the CBN award and went on to the big leagues have been LHP Jeff Francis (North Delta, B.C.), of the UBC Thunderbirds in 2001; RHP Jesse Crain (Toronto, Ont.) of the Houston Cougars in 2002 and Edouard Julien (Quebec, Que.) of the Auburn Tigers in 2018.

-Congratulations to Guardians reliever Cade Smith (Abbotsford, B.C.) who picked up his first major league win on Wednesday. He got the final two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Houston Astros to send the game into extra innings. The Guardians then scored a run in the 10th for a 3-2 victory at Minute Maid Park. Smith has been one of the Guardians’ most reliable relievers this season. The 6-foot-5 right-hander has a 2.30 ERA in 16 appearances and has struck out 24 batters in 15 2/3 innings. Signed by the Guardians as a free agent in 2020 out of the University of Hawaii, the Junior National Team and Abbotsford Cardinals grad topped all Canuck minor league pitchers in 2023 in appearances, saves (15) and strikeouts per nine innings (13.6).

-Right-hander Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.) pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday in their 4-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Rogers Centre. It was Pop’s first big league appearance in nearly a year. In nine relief appearances with the triple-A Buffalo Bisons prior to his call-up, he had posted a 1.86 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings. Last year, Pop cracked the Blue Jays’ Opening Day roster but was sidelined on May 4 with a hamstring injury. Following his recovery, he was assigned to triple-A Buffalo where he registered a 5.51 ERA in 31 contests. The Blue Jays acquired Pop, who is a Toronto Mets and Junior National Team alum, from the Miami Marlins on August 2, 2022.

-Boston Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.), who has been on the 15-day injured list with a right elbow flexor strain since April 10, made a rehab start for the triple-A Worcester Red Sox on Thursday. He allowed four runs on three hits and four walks in three innings. He also had five strikeouts. Despite Pivetta’s struggles in that start, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told Christopher Smith of MassLive.com on Friday that the Canuck righty will likely rejoin the Red Sox for their series against the Atlanta Braves that begins on Tuesday. Pivetta had registered a 0.82 ERA and struck out 13 batters in 11 innings in two starts this season prior to being sidelined. The Junior National Team alum is in his eighth big league campaign and his fourth with the Sox.

-While the results haven’t been there for Chicago White Sox right-hander Michael Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) this season (0-3 with a 6.48 ERA in 33 1/3 innings), it is encouraging that he has remained healthy and is tied for the American League lead with seven starts. That’s the most starts he has made in a season since he made 29 in his rookie campaign in 2019. He is slated to make his eighth start of the season on Monday. Soroka was traded to the Sox by the Braves on November 16 after posting a 6.40 ERA in seven big league games (six starts) last season. Those were his first major league appearances since he tore his right Achilles tendon for the first time on August 3, 2020.

-On this date 18 years ago, Russell Martin made his major league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was a Friday night contest at Dodger Stadium against the Brewers. Martin batted eighth and caught former 20-game winner Derek Lowe. At the plate, Martin went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in the Dodgers’ 4-3 win. His first big league hit was a two-run RBI double off left-hander Chris Capuano in the bottom of the fourth inning. For more information about Martin’s major league debut, you can read this article I wrote about it in 2021.

-It was 21 years ago today that Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Matt Stairs (Fredericton, N.B.) belted a 461-foot home run off Astros right-hander Wade Miller in the eighth inning. At the time, it was the longest home run ever hit at Minute Maid Park. Lance Berkman, Yordan Alvarez and George Springer have since hit longer home runs.

-Seventy-eight years ago today, Jean-Pierre Roy (Montreal, Que.) made his big league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He came in in relief in the fourth inning and retired the only two Pirates batters he faced in the Dodgers’ 4-3 loss at Forbes Field.

-This week’s trivia question: Who holds the Toronto Blue Jays record for most runs scored in a season? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below.

-The answer to last week’s trivia question (Who has registered the highest on-base percentage in a season for the Toronto Blue Jays?) was John Olerud who had a .473 OBP in 1993.

The post But What Do I Know? . . . Cal Quantrill, Tyler O’Neill, Tyler Black, Russell Martin appeared first on Cooperstowners in Canada.